70% of CEOs admit responsibility for marketers’ poor performance, but…

While the above headline is an actual finding by The Fournaise Marketing Group, it comes with quite a large asterisk.

But first, some background. Earlier this year the marketing measurement company found that 80% of CEOs were “not very impressed” by the work done by their marketing department, believing them poor business performers. CEOs believed marketers could not satisfactorily prove the business case for their activities, that marketers had lost sight of their real job (to generate demand), and were not concerned enough with business performance.

In Fournaise’s latest research, as part of its ‘2012 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program’, it surveyed more than 1200 corporate and enterprise CEOs and decision makers in Australia, Europe, Asia and North America to analyse the CEO-CMO tension, leading to the statistic in the headline of this article.

This is where the ‘but’ comes in.

The finding that 70% of CEOs felt somewhat responsible for marketers’ perceived performance shortcomings and reputation was largely as a consequence of them having lost faith in marketers’ business abilities and having given up on holding marketing accountable.

Only 20% of CEOs considered their marketing staff to be ‘ROI marketers’, defined by Fournaise as focusing on:

  • generating more customer demand,
  • tracking, optimising and reporting the impact of their marketing activities on the business’ P&L, and
  • minimising wastage.

“Whether we like it or not, what CEOs are telling us is clear cut: they don’t trust traditional marketers, they don’t expect much from them. CEOs have to deliver shareholder value. Period. So they want no-nonsense ROI marketers, they want business performance, they want results,” says Jerome Fontaine, Fournaise’s Global CEO and chief tracker.

And Fontaine has some curt advice for marketers:

“At the end of the day, marketers have to stop whining about being misunderstood by CEOs, and have to start remembering that their job is to generate customer demand and to deliver performance. This is business. When is the last time you heard CFOs whine about being misunderstood by CEOs?”